Thursday, February 18, 2010

The difference age makes

A friend and I spent some time discussing a proposal from her parents the other day. Her parents want to cosign an adjustable rate, $0 down mortgage on a condo for her and her sister. The parents will subsidize the mortgage up front, keeping her rent at it's current level but in much swankier digs.

Five years ago when we were just out of school I would have thought this was a great setup. I would have been envious. Now I shake my head at her parent's denial and try to talk her out of it.

The problems are numerous- adjustable rate, when rates are so low? Why oh why would you do that??? I'm guessing it has something to do with crazy factor 2, $0 down. Issue three- she and her sister don't really want to live together. They both like the lifestyle they could have together, but actually being together for the past few weeks they've reverted back to their teen years.

The greater issue is my friend has a shopping addiction. She has just under $5,000 in credit card debt even though her parents paid off her balances this spring to help her start fresh when she finished grad school. I cannot begin to fathom what you would spend $5,000 on in 8 months.

Her rent is pretty low, she has a full time job and has since picked up 2 side gigs to make some extra money. She understands that she has a problem. But every time she struggles her parents try to swoop in. Partially because they love her in their own crazy way and partially because they're controlling. I can't count the times where they've offered a car, apartment, trip, etc to get her to do something their way.

On the phone I told her that I love her and will support her in any healthy way that she needs. I also emphatically said she's not ready for a mortgage. Until she can handle her day to day bills responsibly taking on a 30 year commitment just doesn't make sense. She needs to put in the work to get rid of her debt on her own. More importantly she needs to face her addiction to keep from running up more debt. Then she can think about saving for a down payment.

I'm thinking about getting her a PF book to help her on her journey. Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover comes to mind, but can you think of anything better?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How much is your time worth?

A lot of people talk about the value of your time when talking about things like coupon cutting or running all over time looking for deals. Over the past month my mom and I have been discussing the value of her time.

My mom is 60. She has a master's degree that she never utilized. The degree and my arrival came within a year of each other. Instead of taking pay and benefits cut to start over in the industry where she got her degree she stayed at her secure job with good benefits. She stayed there for 25 years, leaving only when my step father's transfer took them to the south. When they first moved she looked at the available jobs and decided to go into real estate.

Can you guess where this is going? After loosing money in 2008 my mom and her partner hung up their shingles. In 2009 my mom alternated between fretting about work and considering it an early retirement. As an in between she signed up with a temp agency.

For the past month she's been working as a receptionist from 8-6. The people are nice and it's only 5 minutes from her house. She's making a little less than $10/hr. There's a possibility that it could go full time, but in the interview they made it very clear that $10.00 would be the max pay. Though she'd like more that's about average for where she lives.

So is it worth it?

My step-dad is working as a contractor for his former company post retirement. His income covers the household bills and he helps his grandson pay for college. So financially speaking, my mom doesn't need to work. She just misses having her own income. Her schedule for most of the last year included going to the gym 4-6 times a week, keeping their house up to her insane standards, cooking healthy food, reading, and being there whenever I need to talk.

Since she started working she's remembered how hard it is to do all of those things with a set schedule. She's only been working out 1-2 times a week and is stressed about getting everything done. My step-dad admittedly needs to pick up a bit more slack, but he works 4 10's with a 60 mile commute each way. So it's really 12.5 hr days 4 days a week.

I think she shouldn't take the job. If anything I think she should find something part time so she still has time to take care of her (and his) health. I don't need gifts/mom sponsored visits home which accounts for 1/2 the reason she wants her own income. She transferred 1/4 of what she's made so far into one of my accounts for my birthday. I'll get something fun because it will make her happy- but I'd much rather have a healthy mom 15 yrs from now than birthday/Christmas gifts.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An Expensive Yes

Recently my friend Anne got engaged. She and her boyfriend recently took a vacation and I commented to my husband that if he didn't pop the question on the trip I'd have to beat him up. Luckily he did, at a place that means a lot to them, so I don't have to fly across the country and whoop his behind.

Anne and I met at my first 'real' job. Over a few months we got closer and she became a part of my circle of friends. We had regular chip + guac dates to discuss the guys we were dating. The night before her first date with Oz I ended up spending the night at her house. Maybe there was snow? Or we stayed out too late and I missed the last train? Or maybe because we were in our early 20's and why not? I ended up making her late to the date where everything went wrong in the best possible way.

This weekend she asked me to be her co-maid of honor. Without a thought I said yes because I love her and I love them and I can't think of a better way to celebrate their union.

Then the responsibilities and associated costs hit me. She's in the mid-Atlantic and the wedding will be in New England. I'm not. Assuming 2 trips (combined shower/bachlorette weekend then the wedding) at $300/flight, the trip to the wedding for the hubby, a dress, and food/lodging/alcohol for it all this is looking like a $1.5-2K answer.

On the up side my personal savings fund could pay for this now and I have 18 months to get things sorted out. I'll be renaming one of my ING subaccounts for the wedding and cutting back on my personal spending so I can save more.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Presumptuous Snow Guy

Over the holidays we got a bit of snow. As soon as we'd shoveled up one storm another 24 hour storm that dumped 8-1o inches came through. Just as I was gearing up to get round one done someone knocked on the door offering to shovel twice (that afternoon and the next morning) for $25. We told him we'd be open to shoveling in the future and gave him our number.

This week we had the first snow with any accumulation for the year. It snowed overnight and into the day. When I left for work it was maybe about 1.5 inches. At this point I should explain that my household has a pretty lazy snow policy. Less than 3 inches and we do the sidewalk and a path to the door and let mother nature take care of the rest. The rest of the week temps should be near 50 and the little bit of snow would melt away. So when I got home last night I was a little shocked that my husband had shoveled. He's been sick and had succumb to Ny*quil by the time I got home so we didn't talk about it.

This morning he found a note on the door from the snow guy basically saying that he hopes we don't mind that he shoveled and he'll be back in the morning for his regular $15 fee.

This is irritating on multiple levels. You never assume that someone has the money to pay you. If you want to work a side business (as many of you are familiar with) you hold onto things like phone numbers and build a relationship with your clients. Also, who charges the same amount for shoveling 2 inches and 6 inches? Finally, who even shovels 2 inches. When it's going to be 50 degrees in 2 days. Though I said our general snow policy is lazy, only one other person on our block (~9 houses) has a shoveled driveway. You shovel the walkway for the kids and let mama nature take her course.

So now we technically owe this guy $15 dollars that we don't have to spend.

What would you do internets?


Do you ever have so much going on that you don't know where to start? That's where my blog posts are. On my morning drive I think up all sorts of things I would like otshare vut can never decide what comes first.

Last weekend was the busiest I've had in a while and it was great. I went to a crafty baby shower, out to dinner and fell asleep on the couch before 9pm on Saturday. I also took a second stab at our taxes online. Largely because I'm anal.

On Sunday morning I had a horrible sinus headache due to the weather so I chilled on the couch. My doc doesn't want me taking my usual meds so there was much laying around/whimpering. On the way to our to the Super Bowl party I requested a drug store detour, where I met the most unhelpful pharmacist ever and bought a neti pot. We got to the party early enough so that I could help make some of the food and chill with my friend before the boys got loud. I realize that I like cooking for others and being around a group, but I hate hosting. This friend likes hosting so I try to get there early enough to help set up and also help her clean up at the end.

I may have also eaten half a bag of Doritos. Maybe...